James DePreist conducting in 1966

I just became aware of this video from the New York Philharmonic’s Young People’s Concerts. It was filmed in 1966. Leonard Bernstein introduces the conductor for Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition – the young James DePreist (he was 30 years old at the time). It’s amazing to see all the mannerisms that I grew to love (and some not so much) nearly 30 years later when I joined the Oregon Symphony. What a remarkable and beautiful human being he was.


There are times that I wonder if what I do as a professional musician makes a difference. I know that the art that I help to create does make a difference in a larger, 30,000 feet sort of way. Society is better for having artists, musicians, writers. Then I heard this song on Friday night, driving back from an OSO concert in Salem. I sat in my driveway waiting for it to end, as it moved me greatly. I rarely get political – if you hold this against me, so be it – but I believe in what this song expresses, and how it is expressed.

Written by Sara Bareilles, and performed by Leslie Odom, Jr. (of Hamilton fame), this song was commissioned by This American Life to imagine what President Obama’s inner monologue might be in response to the hate and vitriol spewed in this election season. What resulted is a powerful response to the groundswell of white nationalism that has been fanned by the candidacy of Donald J. Trump. Music can make a difference.

one violist in manhattan

Viola shaming. When will the madness end? #endviolajokes